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Themed grant round

School choices: improving attendance and reducing exclusions in schools

In partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation

Entry deadline:
31st May 2022

Applications have now closed.


The Youth Endowment Fund’s mission is to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. The Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) mission is to break the link between family income and educational achievement. 

We’ve come together to jointly fund two grant rounds to build evidence of what works to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools.

The first grant round, called A safe, positive place to learn, is focused on funding programmes (applications for this grant round have now closed).

This grant round, School choices, is here to fund projects to find out how school-wide practices and approaches (such as attendance monitoring and response systems or behaviour management policies) can help to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools.

Why we’re focusing on this area

We know that school absence – missed attendance, as well as fixed and permanent exclusion – not only impacts on students’ attainment, but also on the likelihood of them becoming involved in violence and crime.

What’s less clear is the evidence on what works to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools.

Through this grant round, we’re looking to find, fund, and evaluate programmes and practices in England and Wales that could both keep children safe from involvement in violence and improve academic attainment.


Applications for funding opened on Tuesday 3 May and will closed on Tuesday 31 May 2022.

Funded projects

After a competitive round, we decided to fund three projects to help us understand how different school practices and policies could help us to improve attendance and reduce exclusions in schools:

ICF Consulting

Research question: Do family liaison officers reduce the risk of pupils missing school?

Total funding (project and evaluation): £172,000

Hiring Attendance and Family Liaison Officers (AFLO) is becoming a common practice within schools, but there isn’t much evidence about whether they help to prevent children from missing out on their education.

ICF consulting are currently undertaking research to better understand how many schools have hired AFLOs, why school leaders choose to create AFLO posts and (when they’re in place) how they work within a school. If the research finds that it’s possible, it’ll inform a potential impact evaluation , to see if having an AFLO in place makes a difference to the pupils most at-risk of absence.

National Foundation for Educational Research and the Difference

Research question: How do different approaches to Internal Alternative Provision impact attendance and exclusion?

Total funding (project and evaluation): £289,000

Internal Alternative Provision (IAP) involves placing children with behavioural difficulties in different classes to other pupils within a school setting, which could involve an in-school inclusion unit or nurture group.

At the moment, we don’t know much about the ways in which IAP is being used in schools or how commonly it’s used. The National Foundation for Educational Research and the Difference are working together to better understand different types of IAP being used, to see whether it’s possible to run an impact evaluation (which could help us better understand how well IAP could reduce absence at school).

Natcen Social Research and University College London

Research question: Does an authoritarian school climate improve attendance and reduce exclusion?  

Total funding (project and evaluation): £274,000

NatCen and UCL have been funded to study school behavioural management policies and how they shape the atmosphere in a school.

Academic theory currently suggests that the climate within a school affects levels of absence, but this isn’t currently backed up with much empirical data. Firstly, researchers will try to understand different behavioural policies and how they’re implemented. After this initial stage, if it’s possible, researchers will run a further study to estimate the potential impact of different types of approach on exclusion and attendance rates.